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  • Writer's pictureJay F. Servedio

When the Pen is Put Down

Robb woke up that morning with puffy eyes, a scowl, and a migraine- not a headache, a migraine. If it had been not even two years earlier, he’d have a hangover to match the drapes. But that wasn’t the case anymore: he was a day away from his eighteen-month chip and talked too much about “how great it fees to be sober now” to hop off the wagon now. The migraine, he thought to himself, was probably because of the pollen. It stuffed him up quite a bit when the seasons changed in New Hampshire. Libertarians, leaves changing, and lousy allergies: that’s what his state was famous for. Robb sneezed. And then… he suddenly became aware of something. A voice. Narrati-

“Hello?” Narrating his every-

“Is someone in here?” He cried aloud before the voice could get another word-

“Hey, I have a gun in here man, I’m not afraid to get some use out of it.” Robb kicked himself for not coming up with something better to say.

“You sure got a lot to say for someone who doesn’t have the balls to show himself” he said as he went to grab the gun from the top drawer of his nightstand. Suddenly, he froze.

“How- how’d you know I keep my gun in there?” It was then that the writer of this story grew bored with its tired and trite premise, so he decided to change the story completely and include all of the former to save WiteOut, even though he knew he was going to have to type it up for his pretentious blog, anyway.

“Listen man, I don’t know what’s going on here, but if you’re trying to make some kind of meta-commentary on quote-on-quote ‘busy work’ not benefitting the creative process and make it seem like you’re too good for that kinda thing-“ began to say Robb, before his tale was cut short forever, living on only as a “Hey maybe I should let that play out in a later post” thought.

***

Anna sat on a bench in Central Park reading Milk and Honey to herself in a low mumble. She had a migraine- not a headache, a migraine.

“Hello?” she said, looking over her shoulder.

“Is… is somebody there?” She got up and scanned her surroundings.

“This isn’t cute or funny, it’s creepy, so why don’t you just fuck off or I’m gonna call the cops.” The tremble in her voice was subtle, but still audible.

“That’s it, Asshole, I’m calling the police, so you can stay here and get arrested or leave me alone!” But there was nobody there.

“There clearly is, dude, I can hear you!”

“No!” Shouted Robb as he ran over to Anna.

“Are you the weirdo who was narrating what I was doing?” She asked. “Wait what? How’re you doing that without moving your mouth?”

“I’m not doing it! I think an aspiring writer is trying to be meta or something, and he thought this short story would be funny for a somewhat retentive audience of family members and college peers!”

“What the hell is that even supposed to mean?”

“We’re in a short story or something!”

“Are you insane?” She said, a tinge of anger coming through in her voi- “Cut that shit out man, seriously!

“He doesn’t stop! He’s just going to keep doing this until he’s satisfied! The clicks are all that matter to him, not the craft! And he’s also incredibly pretentious!”

“Who is HE?!”

“I don’t know, the guy narrating or writing or whatever!”

“Writing?!”

“Like I SAID, I think we’re in a short story!”

“What would even make you think something like that?”

“Well, like…” he paused for a moment. “I woke up this morning with a migraine-“ Anna’s eyes shot wide open.

“That’s so weird… I did too!”

“Yeah well… it get’s weirder. I don’t think I existed before today. I mean, I know I’m from New Hampshire, and like, I’m sober or something… I can feel things… but I don’t have memories. I don’t know anything about myself!”

“I-“ She paused. “STOP SAYING THAT!....... I don’t think I do either.” They sat in silence for a moment- “IT’S NOT SILENCE IF YOU’RE TALKING!”

….

“This is weird. “

“Yeah.”

“I mean, like I said, I live in New Hampshire, I don’t even know how I got to New York.” It was then that they blinked and were transported to Milwaukee.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!”

“See! SEE! He’s playing with us!”

“WHY MILWAUKEE?” Anna asked the sky like a crazy person. “Oh, VERY FUNNY! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW UNORIGINAL THIS IS? YOU’RE ONLY MAKING YOURSELF LOOK WORSE!”

“Just end whatever this is, man, I don’t want to be a puppet anymore!”

“Wait-“ Anna said. “If… if he stops writing… Do… Do we die?” Robb’s eyes widened.

“I- I really don’t know.” Anna looked up at the sky once more.

“Are… are we-“ Anna sneezed.

“Bless you.”

“Thank you.” She looked back up at the sky one last time. “WOAH, LAST TIME? ARE WE GONNA DIE?”

***

And they waited for a reply.

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